SOCHI, Russia – Russian security officials are hunting down three potential female suicide bombers, one of whom is believed to be in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics will begin next month.
Police leaflets seen by an Associated Press reporter at a central Sochi hotel on Tuesday contain warnings about three potential suicide bombers. A police letter said that one of them, Ruzanna Ibragimova, a 22-year-old widow of an Islamic militant, was at large in Sochi.
A U.S. congressman who was in Sochi on Tuesday to assess the situation said he was impressed by the work of Russian security forces but troubled that potential suicide bombers had entered the city, despite all of the extraordinary security measures.
“We know some of them got through the perimeter,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee. “She’s for real. What we don’t know is how many more black widows are out there.”
Russian authorities have blamed the so-called “black widows” of slain insurgents for previous suicide attacks in the country.
The Black Sea resort town will host the games amid concerns about security and potential terrorist attacks.
The southern city of Volgograd was rocked by two suicide bombings in late December, which killed 34 and injured scores more. An Islamic militant group in Dagestan posted a video on Sunday claiming responsibility for the bombings and threatened to strike the games in Sochi, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) west of Dagestan.
McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said he had numerous meetings with officials in Moscow and Sochi, and was briefed by the joint operation center in Sochi, which is responsible for overall security.
“The one improvement I would ask of the Russians is to allow our intelligence services to coordinate and cooperate better with theirs,” McCaul said. Although the Russian side was confident that it could provide security, the U.S. has information that could help keep the games safe, he said.